Almost every gun owner knows that owning a gun is a big responsibility, but let’s get the facts out of the way: statistics show that you’re more likely to get shot if you own a firearm. Unfortunately, in these cases, the owner often has their own gun used on them, either intentionally or in an accident.
Because of this, it’s only natural to be concerned about what owning a range pistol or keeping Grandpa’s antique rifle over the mantle could mean for loved ones that don’t quite grasp that responsibility yet.
Firearm safety for kids
Gun responsibility is never more apparent than with children.
Since kids’ brains are still developing, and they’re inundated with "fun" depictions of firearms, they’ll have a more challenging time wrapping their heads around what it truly means to own a gun. If you don’t think your kids could get their hands on your firearm because you hide it, these statistics may cause you to reflect.
- 75% of children who live in homes with guns know where they are stored
- In 16% of unintentional firearm deaths among children younger than 13 years of age, the gun was mistaken for a toy
- Studies have found that most children will handle a gun if they find one, even if they have been taught not to
No one should have to see their child become part of yet another study on gun violence.
The good news is that there is research to show that if you know how to practice gun safety at home, then you dramatically reduce the risks associated with gun ownership without infringing upon your safety or your right to own a firearm.
Below are recommendations for how to store guns safely.
Tip 1 - Keep guns unloaded
The first step to gun safety rules at home is never to keep a loaded gun around. As much as you may want to have that first shot ready just in case, it also means your kids will have that first shot available if they find and decide to play with it.
Unloading the gun entirely–including chambered rounds–substantially decreases the risk of accidental gun-related injury or death, especially for children. Even toddlers are often strong enough to pull the trigger.
Teaching responsible firearm use from an early age can be a good idea, but it is NEVER a replacement for safe storage. Many parents of children who purposefully harmed others with the parents' firearm were unaware their child could do such a thing.
The only gun safety you can 100% rely on is your child not getting their hands on a loaded gun.
Tip 2 - Use lockboxes
If you’re living in Massachusetts or California this bit is already enacted in state law, but for everyone else it’s on the shoulders of gun owners themselves: get gun safes, lockable gun cases, or lockboxes.
Safe storage makes it harder for you to reach in the event of a break-in, but if you’ve drilled with your gun already then adding this step into your routine isn’t much of a challenge. And it makes it harder for that burglar to get their hands on it first.
It’s just a lock for you. You’re an adult. But for an impulsive kid, the key thing to remember is that you’re adding steps to the process of them having a loaded weapon in their hands. You’re forcing them to think about what they’re doing with all the hoops they'd have to jump through just to get to that firearm.
Every step adds a barrier the child may not be able to overcome, and puts a reminder of your disapproval between them and that gun.
If you are a parent and a gun owner, submit this form to get a FREE safety kit, which includes a cable-style gun lock and safety instructions.
Gun case example to store your gun safely
Our D-Tap professional gun cases were designed for the practical realities of owning a handgun. Whether you're taking your gun on the road, in the air, or storing it at home - D-Tap cases go above and beyond to keep your firearms safe and your family safer.
Each case features four 1/4” padlock holes and a 4’ braided steel tether included for CA SB-1382 compliance. The ABS case is crush and pry proof, so nobody is getting in without a key.
Tip 3 - Store ammunition safely
This is where your average Joe will usually start groaning, but it’s actually important to keep in mind.
If your gun’s unloaded and locked but you keep your ammo out for anyone to find–or it’s in the same spot as the gun–then that’s barely a hurdle for anyone who’s determined enough to get it in the first place. Anyone who has kids knows they have determination in spades when they get an idea into their heads.
So here’s what you do: get another locked box to stick the ammo in, and make sure they’re opened by separate means. Whether it’s different keys, combinations, or whatever, you need to make sure guns and ammo aren’t a one-stop shop for your kids.
The only one who should be able to get through them easily is you.
Tip 4 - Trigger gun locks
An easy and affordable extra layer of security for guns in the home is a trigger lock. These days, you'll often receive one when making a new gun purchase. If not, they only cost $10-20.
Trigger locks come in two types:
- Cable lock - with a revolver, the cable loops through the barrel so the cylinder cannot be closed, and with a semi-automatic pistol, the magazine will not be able to load.
- Trigger shoe clamp - designed to prevent the trigger from being used. Do not attempt to install the trigger shoe clamp on a loaded weapon.
Tip 5 - Talk to your kids
This brings us to the last point: actually talking to your children.
Not punishing them, badgering them with gun safety facts, or trying to teach them responsible gun practices. Bringing them to the range for training isn’t enough; it only addresses the symptom, not the root cause.
If your older kids are trying to get at your guns, then there’s something else going on. Talk to them. Ask them about school. Try to figure out if they’re being bullied or harassed. Find out if there’s anything you can do to be a more supportive parent - it's not easy getting kids to open up. It's hard work, but could make a real difference to their lives.
Kids are people too, even if they’re still developing. They’re learning how to navigate the world around them as they go, and it can be pretty scary. It’s certainly scary enough to prompt you to buy a gun, after all.
Out of every possible tip on this list, this one will probably be the hardest to put into practice. But it is the one most likely to save their lives in other ways that go beyond keeping them safe from your revolver collection.
Whether you’re a conservative or a liberal, gun safety tips should be a top priority for any family in America today. A third of US households have guns, and many of those are kept loaded, unlocked, and within reach of little hands that could easily misuse them.
Every life lost to an incorrectly stored firearm is a tragedy. It’s also more apparent than ever that every needless death found at the end of a barrel is going to be used as ammunition against gun owners in the fight to take away our rights. We strongly believe that it’s the duty of every US citizen who is both a parent and a gun owner to keep their guns away from their kids.
This is how we reduce firearm-related injuries and deaths while also turning the narrative.
Remembering how to keep guns safe at home is less about the guns themselves and more about the people who might use them. After all, it’s not the guns that kill people; it’s the people holding those guns. And when it comes to gun safety for kids whose critical thinking skills are still developing, it’s the responsibility of every parent with a gun in the house to consider that.
If you need advice on securing your firearms, drop us a line - we're here to help.
More resources for self-study
- Download "Ten tips for firearm safety in your home".pdf file by Project ChildSafe
- Download a complete guide on gun safety by Project ChildSafe
- Visit Resources library with more educational materials by ProjectSafe
Project ChildSafe is a firearms safety education program in the U.S., developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and committed to promoting safe firearms handling and storage education.